Taking Your 4×4 on the Wild Side
They say that the Land Rover was so adept at traveling over rugged landscapes, that it was the first car seen by people in outwardly corners of the world out of touch with the rest of civilization.
Many of us have 4x4s but rarely do we take them off the road and onto the dirt. If you have a 4×4 and do not venture off road then you are really missing out. I mean just look at all the fun that Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear got with some sturdy 4x4s; he took one right up a mountain side all the way up to the top! That beats driving on a smooth road any day.
Going off-road is fun but it is challenging, especially for first-timers. However if you are aware of the basic questions and their answers the task becomes a lot less hassle free.
1. Understand your 4×4’s features
A 4×4 is quite different from an ordinary car for it is made to do extraordinary stuff. There are some features that help you go the extra mile.
Most modern 4x4s will have some level of traction control. Some will have a simple on or off setting for traction control, while others built for a more rugged expedition might have a complex system with multiple options for different traction situations.
No matter how complicated or easy the system, what traction control does is that it tells your onboard computer to keep an eye on the wheels spin and then brake accordingly to keep the vehicle moving forward.
You should read your vehicles owner’s manual and truly understand how your traction control works and its settings if any.
What a locking differential in simplest terms is, is that it allows the wheels of the car to rotate at slightly different speeds when needed (when making a turn). For example, one wheel comes in contact with snow or mud or in a case where one wheel is not in contact with the ground. This feature is very important when going off road.
In the really old 4x4s you had to achieve this manually, but in the most new ones you can do it by just pushing a button. So if you haven’t gotten a 4×4 yet, keep this in mind. And if you have an old 4×4, then you should learn how to manually lock the hubs, a necessity before you venture on your off-road adventure.
2. What special equipment do you need?
Just like in the olden days horses would be given the best horseshoes before an expedition, your 4×4 needs a good set of tires to brave the surfaces and terrains you shall come across on your adventure.
The importance of a good set of tires cannot be overstated. No matter how good your 4×4 is, no matter the state of the art brakes it has or other features, they are all of naught if not combined with good tires. Good tires can make the difference between having a great off-road adventure and being involved in a terrible tragedy!
Before you go off-road you should talk to your local tire experts to understand which tires would be best for the terrain you are about to conquer.
Think of your 4×4 as a reliable beast. So do not mess with its core factory features in a bid to “glorify” it. Stay away from the cheap body lift kit.
Your 4×4’s shock absorber is the most important thing when it comes to ensuring your car survives the abuse that off-roading brings with it. And it also ensures that all that abuse is not transferred to you, thus saving your back from a lot of pain.
What a cheap body lift kit do is simple put your car body on stilts and get you a bit more ground clearance. If you really want proper increase in height go to your local mechanic and talk about a suspension lift.